A Novel Biomarker Associated With Distress in Humans: Calcium-Binding Protein, Spermatid-Specific 1 (CABS1)

Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2017 Jun 1;312(6):R1004-R1016. doi: 10.1152/ajpregu.00393.2016. Epub 2017 Apr 5.


Calcium-binding protein spermatid-specific 1 (CABS1) is expressed in the human submandibular gland and has an anti-inflammatory motif similar to that in submandibular rat 1 in rats. Here, we investigate CABS1 in human saliva and its association with psychological and physiological distress and inflammation in humans. Volunteers participated across three studies: 1) weekly baseline measures; 2) a psychosocial speech and mental arithmetic stressor under evaluative threat; and 3) during academic exam stress. Salivary samples were analyzed for CABS1 and cortisol. Additional measures included questionnaires of perceived stress and negative affect; exhaled nitric oxide; respiration and cardiac activity; lung function; and salivary and nasal inflammatory markers. We identified a CABS1 immunoreactive band at 27 kDa in all participants and additional molecular mass forms in some participants. One week temporal stability of the 27-kDa band was satisfactory (test-retest reliability estimate = 0.62-0.86). Acute stress increased intensity of 18, 27, and 55 kDa bands; 27-kDa increases were associated with more negative affect and lower heart rate, sympathetic activity, respiration rate, and minute ventilation. In both acute and academic stress, changes in 27 kDa were positively associated with salivary cortisol. The 27-kDa band was also positively associated with VEGF and salivary leukotriene B4 levels. Participants with low molecular weight CABS1 bands showed reduced habitual stress and negative affect in response to acute stress. CABS1 is readily detected in human saliva and is associated with psychological and physiological indicators of stress. The role of CABS1 in inflammatory processes, stress, and stress resilience requires careful study.

Keywords: acute and chronic stress; anti-inflammatory activity; calcium-binding protein spermatid-specific 1; cortisol; negative affect; saliva; submandibular rat 1.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Affect
  • Asthma / metabolism
  • Asthma / physiopathology
  • Asthma / psychology
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Calcium-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Forced Expiratory Volume
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / metabolism
  • Leukotriene B4 / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mathematical Concepts
  • Middle Aged
  • Molecular Weight
  • Respiratory Rate
  • Saliva / metabolism*
  • Speech
  • Stress, Psychological / etiology
  • Stress, Psychological / metabolism*
  • Stress, Psychological / physiopathology
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology
  • Time Factors
  • Up-Regulation
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A / metabolism
  • Young Adult


  • Biomarkers
  • Calcium-Binding Proteins
  • VEGFA protein, human
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A
  • calcium-binding protein spermatid-specific 1, human
  • Leukotriene B4
  • Hydrocortisone